Editor’s Note – If the Tsarnaev brothers could not be stopped despite Russian warnings and an FBI probe, and then Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson could not be stopped in their attempt despite the probe and sentencing of Simpson, what good is all this NSA data collection?
With ISIS claiming responsibility for the attack in Texas, what is next? Is the NSA ever going to produce any positive results? Once again, is all this security with the price of less liberty and privacy?
Now we learn that NSA computers are converting our words they pick up into searchable text. Will that matter, and do you feel safer? Do you feel more threatened by the NSA than ISIS. If not for careful planning by Pam Geller’s team, and hiring a large number of Garland police, the tragic ending could have been horrendous – no thanks to the NSA or FBI.
The Computers are Listening – How the NSA Converts Words into Searchable Text
Most people realize that emails and other digital communications they once considered private can now become part of their permanent record. But even as they increasingly use apps that understand what they say, most people don’t realize that the words they speak are not so private anymore, either.
Top-secret documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency can now automatically recognize the content within phone calls by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored.
The documents show NSA analysts celebrating the development of what they called “Google for Voice” nearly a decade ago.
Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community’s “holy grail,” the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.
The documents include vivid examples of the use of speech recognition in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Latin America. But they leave unclear exactly how widely the spy agency uses this ability, particularly in programs that pick up considerable amounts of conversations that include people who live in or are citizens of the United States.
Spying on international telephone calls has always been a staple of NSA surveillance, but the requirement that an actual person do the listening meant it was effectively limited to a tiny percentage of the total traffic. By leveraging advances in automated speech recognition, the NSA has entered the era of bulk listening.
And this has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings or legislative action. Congress hasn’t shown signs of even knowing that it’s going on.
The USA Freedom Act — the surveillance reform bill that Congress is currently debating — doesn’t address the topic at all. The bill would end an NSA program that does not collect voice content: the government’s bulk collection of domestic calling data, showing who called who and for how long.
Even if becomes law, the bill would leave in place a multitude of mechanisms exposed by Snowden that scoop up vast amounts of innocent people’s text and voice communications in the U.S. and across the globe.
Civil liberty experts contacted by The Intercept said the NSA’s speech-to-text capabilities are a disturbing example of the privacy invasions that are becoming possible as our analog world transitions to a digital one.
“I think people don’t understand that the economics of surveillance have totally changed,” Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Intercept.
“Once you have this capability, then the question is: How will it be deployed? Can you temporarily cache all American phone calls, transcribe all the phone calls, and do text searching of the content of the calls?” she said. “It may not be what they are doing right now, but they’ll be able to do it.”
And, she asked: “How would we ever know if they change the policy?”
Indeed, NSA officials have been secretive about their ability to convert speech to text, and how widely they use it, leaving open any number of possibilities.
That secrecy is the key, Granick said. “We don’t have any idea how many innocent people are being affected, or how many of those innocent people are also Americans.”
I Can Search Against It
NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was trained as a voice processing crypto-linguist and worked at the agency until 2008, told The Intercept that he saw a huge push after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to turn the massive amounts of voice communications being collected into something more useful.
Human listening was clearly not going to be the solution. “There weren’t enough ears,” he said.
The transcripts that emerged from the new systems weren’t perfect, he said. “But even if it’s not 100 percent, I can still get a lot more information. It’s far more accessible. I can search against it.”
Converting speech to text makes it easier for the NSA to see what it has collected and stored, according to Drake. “The breakthrough was being able to do it on a vast scale,” he said.
She is lining up the sun, the moon, and the stars, especially the progressive stars to make her run. Why exactly? Power, pure and simple.
The cross-posted article below is a very thorough, and in our opinion, a very accurate depiction of the Hillary Clinton machine and personna. However, there is much more you need to know.
Hillary Clinton has a spy unit and it was created a few years ago. What kind of spy unit? Well it is called American Bridge, and it is an intelligence army, and it is already spying on all of her opposition, no matter the affiliation.
The group has been transformed from an ordinary political action committee into the political version of the NSA, its staffers working out of a room littered with computer monitors that will flash the latest privacy invasion for dissemination.
All of this in the name of electing Hillary Clinton president—where Clinton would be in charge of the IRS, the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA.
Read this continuing excerpt from American Spectator as well (Excerpts are not in actual order, the above quote lies deeper in the article and follows this one below.):
American Bridge PAC spent last week spying on the private conversations of attendees at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The group also plans to spy on the private lives of GOP delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention wherever the convention is located.
Politico reports ABPAC has issued the following threat if the GOP selects Las Vegas as its host city. American Bridge has set up this website at “SinCityGOP” and announces (bold print supplied):
While the Republican Party debates where to hold the Republican National Convention in 2016, American Bridge is preparing our team of researchers and trackers to capture the action no matter what city they choose.
In making their selection, Republicans would do well to remember that Las Vegas is already the city with the most cameras per capita of anywhere on the planet. What’s another two or three dozen American Bridge trackers added to the mix?
And if the RNC does choose Las Vegas, this is the site for all the action. What happens in Vegas… will go right here.
American Bridge was founded by Clinton ally David Brock and is funded by longtime Clinton supporter and billionaire George Soros. American Bridge PAC president Brad Woodhouse boasted that the group’s “trackers” at CPAC had been “in the hallways capturing conversations and that kind of thing.” Meaning? Meaning Hillary’s American Bridge is about invading privacy. CPAC’s today, someone else’s tomorrow. Yours.
The news of “capturing” private conversations at CPAC follows on the heels of multiple congressional investigations into the Obama-run IRS, which has been using the government to ask Tea Party groups about the contents of their members’ prayers, what books they read, and the contents of private phone calls and media interviews. A second controversy has erupted over the NSA collection of “metadata”—including the phone numbers of all Americans.
The news of Clinton’s high tech spies peering into private conversations at CPAC and set to peer into the private lives of GOP delegates comes as the privacy of American citizens has erupted as a major political issue in both the 2014 and 2016 campaigns.” (Read more here at American Spectator.)
…Mrs. Clinton’s past is irrelevant? Hardly.
American Bridge—aka Hillary’s NSA—is gambling that spying on the private lives of others in pursuit of Hillary’s campaign is no big deal.
THE POLITICO’s Mike Allen has given us inside look at the nascent Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Allen’s piece is the latest in a longlineof stories explaining how formidable the 2016 operation will be, and assuring us that Hillary has learned from her disastrous failure in 2008. Here are five things we’ve learned about the campaign thus far:
1. Hillary loves power even more than she loves money
Allen reports that Clinton “never really hesitated” in deciding to run for president again. The likelihood that she will run reportedly went from 98 percent to 100 percent late last year.
The decision is somewhat puzzling, given Hillary’s well-document obsession with making money, and “getting houses.” She has made millions on the public speaking circuit since quitting her job at the State Department, and has even scoffed at public university students who have protested the use of taxpayer funds to pay her exorbitant speaking fees. (After all, she already offers universities a special discounted rate of $300,000.)
Being the leader of the free world, on the other hand, only pays a meager $400,000 per year. Hillary’s decision to forgo millions in future speaking fees is a curious one, which can only be explained by an even greater obsession with power and self-aggrandizement.
2. So many white bros
The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak notes that some Democrats are beginning to express concern about the conspicuous male whiteness of Hillary’s campaign. Pretty much everyone she has hired for a top role is a white dude:
One operative quipped that the top levels of the campaign are in danger of looking like “white dudefest 2016.”
“If Hillary doesn’t begin hiring well-respected African-American or Hispanic political aides in top positions,” said a senior African American Congressional aide, “I would imagine that people will really start to wonder if she is serious about covering her left flank. If that is the case they will look for a candidate who is eager to demonstrate that senior level inclusiveness is a high priority.”
Allen’s report notes that the campaign is already beginning to discuss potential running mates, and at the moment, two white dudes—Sens. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) and Tim Kaine (D., Va.)—are “dominating the early speculation.”
3. Hillary is obsessed with Hillary, and after decades in politics, still has thin skin
Allen reports that Hillary 2016 is determined to have a better relationship with the reporters, people she has previously described as having “big egos and no brains.” At the very least, Allen writes, she wants “to have a ‘good cop’ role to help her get off on a better foot with the journalists who will help shape her image.”
That may be easier said than done, given how obsessed Hillary seems to be with reading (and nitpicking) stories about herself:
Advisers know that Clinton doesn’t like or trust the press – and feels that it’s mutual. She remains a voracious consumer of news about herself, occasionally complaining about an article’s tone or omissions.
One of the few top campaign positions yet to be filled is that of communications director. Potential hires include Karen Finney, whose MSNBC show “Disrupt” was cancelled last year.
4. Hillary possesses an “instinctive insularity,” according to dozens of close aides who won’t stop speaking to the press anonymously
One of the reasons why Team Clinton wants to hire a media-friendly liaison is to serve as “a counterweight to the instinctive insularity of Hillaryland.” This information was relayed to Allen via a number of anonymous aides close to Hillary who have spoken to a number of different reporters over the past several weeks about how awesome Hillary 2016 is going to be.
5. Why she’s running
Actually, the rationale for Hillary’s campaign remains unclear, beyond the fact that she became a grandmother last year, and that made her think a lot about the future. According to Allen, now that a campaign architecture is in place, Team Hillary finally get to work “developing her message,” whatever that may be.
Edited and posted by Scott W. Winchell – “NSA, No Need, I Have My Own” image compiled and created from stock images.
Editor’s Note – Of all the people, and/or nations to watch closely, why was the NSA so focused on Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor? As Tyler Durden posted at Zerohedge: “With friends like these, who needs Russians?”
The Obama Administration apparently ignores historical data like the Wikileaks cables we reported on this week that showed Putin’s intentions in 2008, we ask again, why so much interest on Germany, our staunch NATO ally?
The chart posted below shows that she ranked above Bashar Al Assad of Syria in manual CIA station chief directives/reports and was in the top of those being watched including some of the most nefarious characters and governments including Malaysia, a nation so in the news of late due to the missing flight MH 370.
We know Malaysia is a hotbed, but is Germany, or their Chancellor? And look who made the list at 122, yes Ukraine’s now freed former President, and new candidate for the same office again, now that Russia has forced such dire changes to Ukraine, Yuliya Timoshencko.
In the summer of 2013, a big diplomatic spat erupted when as a result of Snowden’s revelations, it became clear that among the countless world leaders the NSA was spying on was none other than US “best buddy forever”, German chancellor Angela Merkel. Why would the US spy on one of its closest strategic allies the Germans wondered: after all is it not Germany where the bulk of NATO forces are stationed (a topic that is sure to gain more prominence in the coming months now that the second coming of the USSR is just around the corner). Little by little, the diplomatic fallout was put to bed after US ambassadors across Europe were summoned, and given a stern talking to, resulting in promises that never again will the US abuse its bosom, if broke, buddies in Europe. And the whole spying scandal disappeared as if it had never happened.
Naturally, what the less naive ones knew and anticipated, was that if it had emerged that the NSA was spying on Merkel, there was about to be a waterfall of other unpleasant revelations about how deep the NSA’s tentacles stretched inside Germany, all contained in Snowden’s seemingle endless bag of goodies. (Read the rest here.)
With all the secret reports on Merkel, you would think she was more like Hitler than Putin is like Stalin.
NSA Kept Hundreds of Reports on German Chancellor Merkel: Report
The NSA stored more than 300 secret reports on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the White House’s most important allies, in a database that also contained information about scores of other foreign heads of state, according to a Saturday report from Der Spiegel.
The prominent German news magazine said this is just the latest revelation to emerge from the massive collection of sensitive and damaging documents released by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower who began leaking top-secret information about United States intelligence-gathering operations last June.
The database of foreign leaders included more than 100 people, according to Der Spiegel, who were listed alphabetically according to first name. In addition to Merkel, heads of state from Peru, Malaysia, Guatemala, Colombia, Belarus and Somalia appeared on the list. Der Spiegel did not specify what types of information the more than 300 reports on Merkel contained.
A separate Der Spiegel report from Saturday said the NSA and its British equivalent also targeted private German companies for clandestine intelligence-gathering operations. German authorities are reportedly considering whether or not to open their own formal espionage investigation into the NSA’s activities.
Saturday’s news is the latest Snowden leak to strain the relationship between the U.S. and Germany. Last October, it was revealed that the U.S. likely spied on Merkel’s personal phone, according to multiple reports. That led to a conversation between Merkel and President Barack Obama in which the German chancellor reportedly warned Obama that, if true, such actions by the U.S. would be “completely unacceptable” and a “grave breach of trust.”
Editor’s Note – The question now is, what do the spy agencies not have access to, and then why when it comes to games that you play on the internet like Angry Birds what are they doing, what are they getting access to? Well, its not just the USA as well.
The British government can tap into the cables carrying the world’s web traffic at will and spy on what people are doing on some of the world’s most popular social media sites, including YouTube, all without the knowledge or consent of the companies.
Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News detail how British cyber spies demonstrated a pilot program to their U.S. partners in 2012 in which they were able to monitor YouTube in real time and collect addresses from the billions of videos watched daily, as well as some user information, for analysis. At the time the documents were printed, they were also able to spy on Facebook and Twitter.
Remember that user interface you have with gaming devices, and what are your kids playing on the computer that allows access to all other files on your computer?
Spy Agencies Probe Angry Birds and Other Apps for Personal Data
When a smartphone user opens Angry Birds, the popular game application, and starts slinging birds at chortling green pigs, spy agencies have plotted how to lurk in the background to snatch data revealing the player’s location, age, sex and other personal information, according to secret British intelligence documents.
In their globe-spanning surveillance for terrorism suspects and other targets, the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have been trying to exploit a basic byproduct of modern telecommunications: With each new generation of mobile phone technology, ever greater amounts of personal data pour onto networks where spies can pick it up.
According to dozens of previously undisclosed classified documents, among the most valuable of those unintended intelligence tools are so-called leaky apps that spew everything from users’ smartphone identification codes to where they have been that day.
The N.S.A. and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.
The eavesdroppers’ pursuit of mobile networks has been outlined in earlier reports, but the secret documents, shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica, offer far more details of their ambitions for smartphones and the apps that run on them. The efforts were part of an initiative called “the mobile surge,” according to a 2011 British document, an analogy to the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. One N.S.A. analyst’s enthusiasm was evident in the breathless title — “Golden Nugget!” — given to one slide for a top-secret 2010 talk describing iPhones and Android phones as rich resources, one document notes.
The scale and the specifics of the data haul are not clear. The documents show that the N.S.A. and the British agency routinely obtain information from certain apps, particularly some of those introduced earliest to cellphones. With some newer apps, including Angry Birds, the agencies have a similar capability, the documents show, but they do not make explicit whether the spies have put that into practice. Some personal data, developed in profiles by advertising companies, could be particularly sensitive: A secret 2012 British intelligence document says that spies can scrub smartphone apps that contain details like a user’s “political alignment” and sexual orientation.
President Obama announced new restrictions this month to better protect the privacy of ordinary Americans and foreigners from government surveillance, including limits on how the N.S.A. can view “metadata” of Americans’ phone calls — the routing information, time stamps and other data associated with calls. But he did not address the avalanche of information that the intelligence agencies get from leaky apps and other smartphone functions.
And while he expressed concern about advertising companies that collect information on people to send tailored ads to their mobile phones, he offered no hint that American spies routinely seize that data. Nothing in the secret reports indicates that the companies cooperate with the spy agencies to share the information; the topic is not addressed.
The agencies have long been intercepting earlier generations of cellphone traffic like text messages and metadata from nearly every segment of the mobile network — and, more recently, mobile traffic running on Internet pipelines. Because those same networks carry the rush of data from leaky apps, the agencies have a ready-made way to collect and store this new resource. The documents do not address how many users might be affected, whether they include Americans, or how often, with so much information collected automatically, analysts would see personal data.
This cartoon of a fairy accompanies a “top secret” NSA documentabout smartphones. The drawing seems to suggest that phones, and the data they transmit, are a magical intelligence gift to the agency.
“N.S.A. does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission,” the agency said in a written response to questions about the program. “Because some data of U.S. persons may at times be incidentally collected in N.S.A.’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for U.S. persons exist across the entire process.” Similar protections, the agency said, are in place for “innocent foreign citizens.”
The British spy agency declined to comment on any specific program, but said all its activities complied with British law.
Two top-secret flow charts produced by the British agency in 2012 show incoming streams of information skimmed from smartphone traffic by the Americans and the British. The streams are divided into “traditional telephony” — metadata — and others marked “social apps,” “geo apps,” “http linking,” webmail, MMS and traffic associated with mobile ads, among others. (MMS refers to the mobile system for sending pictures and other multimedia, and http is the protocol for linking to websites.)
In charts showing how information flows from smartphones into the agency’s computers, analysts included questions to be answered by the data, including “Where was my target when they did this?” and “Where is my target going?”
As the program accelerated, the N.S.A. nearly quadrupled its budget in a single year, to $767 million in 2007 from $204 million, according to a top-secret Canadian analysis written around the same time.
Even sophisticated users are often unaware of how smartphones offer a unique opportunity for one-stop shopping for information about them. “By having these devices in our pockets and using them more and more,” said Philippe Langlois, who has studied the vulnerabilities of mobile phone networks and is the founder of the Paris-based company Priority One Security, “you’re somehow becoming a sensor for the world intelligence community.”
Smartphones almost seem to make things too easy. Functioning as phones — making calls and sending texts — and as computers — surfing the web and sending emails — they generate and also rely on data. One secret report shows that just by updating Android software, a user sent more than 500 printed lines of data about the phone’s history and use onto the network.
Such information helps mobile ad companies, for example, create detailed profiles of people based on how they use their mobile device, where they travel, what apps and websites they open, and other factors. Advertising firms might triangulate web shopping data and browsing history to guess whether someone is wealthy or has children, for example.
The N.S.A. and the British agency busily scoop up this data, mining it for new information and comparing it with their lists of intelligence targets.
One secret 2010 British document suggests that the agencies collect such a huge volume of “cookies” — the digital traces left on a mobile device or a computer when a target visits a website — that classified computers were having trouble storing it all.
“They are gathered in bulk, and are currently our single largest type of events,” the document says.
The two agencies displayed a particular interest in Google Maps, which is accurate to within a few yards or better in some locations. Intelligence agencies collect so much data from the app that “you’ll be able to clone Google’s database” of global searches for directions, according to a top-secret N.S.A. report from 2007.
“It effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a G.C.H.Q. system,” a secret 2008 report by the British agency says.
(In December, The Washington Post, citing the Snowden documents, reported that the N.S.A. was using metadata to track cellphone locations outside the United States and was using ad cookies to connect Internet addresses with physical locations.)
In another example, a secret 20-page British report dated 2012 includes the computer code needed for plucking the profiles generated when Android users play Angry Birds. The app was created by Rovio Entertainment, of Finland, and has been downloaded more than a billion times, the company has said.
Rovio drew public criticism in 2012 when researchers claimed that the app was tracking users’ locations and gathering other data and passing it to mobile ad companies. In a statement on its website, Rovio says that it may collect its users’ personal data, but that it abides by some restrictions. For example, the statement says, “Rovio does not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13 years of age.”
The secret report noted that the profiles vary depending on which of the ad companies — which include Burstly and Google’s ad services, two of the largest online advertising businesses — compiles them. Most profiles contain a string of characters that identifies the phone, along with basic data on the user like age, sex and location. One profile notes whether the user is currently listening to music or making a call, and another has an entry for household income.
Google declined to comment for this article, and Burstly did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Saara Bergstrom, a Rovio spokeswoman, said that the company had no knowledge of the intelligence programs. “Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned,” Ms. Bergstrom said, referring to the N.S.A. and the British spy agency.
Another ad company creates far more intrusive profiles that the agencies can retrieve, the report says. The apps that generate those profiles are not identified, but the company is named as Millennial Media, which has its headquarters in Baltimore.
In securities filings, Millennial documented how it began working with Rovio in 2011 to embed ad services in Angry Birds apps running on iPhones, Android phones and other devices.
According to the report, the Millennial profiles contain much of the same information as the others, but several categories listed as “optional,” including ethnicity, marital status and sexual orientation, suggest that much wider sweeps of personal data may take place.
A portion of the computer code in Burstly’s Software Development Kit — used by Angry Birds. This software was studied by GCHQ for intelligence value.
Possible categories for marital status, the report says, include single, married, divorced, engaged and “swinger”; those for sexual orientation are straight, gay, bisexual and “not sure.” It is unclear whether the “not sure” category exists because so many phone apps are used by children, or because insufficient data may be available.
There is no explanation of precisely how the ad company defined the categories or how accurate the information is. Nor is there any discussion of why all that information would be useful for marketing — or intelligence.
The agencies have had occasional success — at least by their own reckoning — when they start with something closer to a traditional investigative tip or lead. The spies say that tracking smartphone traffic helped break up a bomb plot by Al Qaeda in Germany in 2007, and the N.S.A. bragged that to crack the plot, it wove together mobile data with emails, log-ins and web traffic. Similarly, mining smartphone data helped lead to arrests of members of a drug cartel hit squad for the 2010 murder of an employee of an American Consulate in Mexico.
But the data, whose volume is soaring as mobile devices have begun to dominate the technological landscape, is a crushing amount of information for the spies to sift through. As smartphone data builds up in N.S.A. and British databases, the agencies sometimes seem a bit at a loss on what to do with it all, the documents show. A few isolated experiments provide hints as to how unwieldy it can be.
In 2009, the American and British spy agencies each undertook a brute-force analysis of a tiny sliver of their cellphone databases. Crunching just one month of N.S.A. cellphone data, a secret report said, required 120 computers and turned up 8,615,650 “actors” — apparently callers of interest. A similar run using three months of British data came up with 24,760,289 actors.
“Not necessarily straightforward,” the report said of the analysis. The agencies’ extensive computer operations had trouble sorting through the slice of data. Analysts were “dealing with immaturity,” the report said, encountering computer memory and processing problems. The report made no mention of anything suspicious in the enormous lumps of data.
Editor’s Note – The NSA speech was today! The big reveal, long awaited from the President on his plans for the future of the NSA. He had 17 days in Hawaii to mull it over, and today, we heard what he is going to do – “kick the ball down the road”! But wait, he did make an assignment to handle it though last Friday – you guessed it, political hack extraordinaire, John Podesta.
President Barack Obama on 10th December named John Podesta as counselor to the president. Podesta has reportedly agreed to help the President in his time of troubles for a year. The White House announced that Podesta would advise the President on a range of issues, but specifically mentioned climate and energy.
Podesta was a co-chair of the Obama-Biden transition team in 2009 and has been an unofficial but highly influential outside adviser to the Obama Administration for the past five years. In 2003, he founded and became president of the Center for American Progress, the leftist think tank and advocacy organization that provided much of the ammunition to oppose the policies of the George W. Bush Administration.
Yes, you heard that correctly, a “political counselor,” his transition head and fromer Clinton advisor on politics, is going to counsel the President on what he should do to handle the massive issue with the NSA; the deepest issue over your liberty and privacy EVER. So now, our security apparatus is in the hands of a political “operative.” Here is the report:
President Barack Obama announced Friday that John Podesta, his new “counselor” and the political operative responsible for creating the institutional left in Washington, will be the appointed “to lead a comprehensive review of big data and privacy” in the aftermath of revelations about the National Security Agency’s electronic spying programs. When he joined the White House last month, Podesta’s focus was said to be “climate change.”
So the man named to handle “Climate Change” issues is qualified for the “NSA” issues as well? He is going to “counsel” the president on what the changes to the NSA should be; yes, we are shaking our heads as well. Do you see a new campaign of whistle stops, or a cogent look at such a primal and basic issue regarding our liberty?
The president’s speech contained little news. It was a classic Obama set-piece, designed to demonstrate that he understands both sides of a complex argument, while delegating responsibility to third parties and taking steps that reinforce the interests and goals of the hard left. In this instance, Obama left final decisions about where to store NSA data to Congress, while making sure that Podesta is in charge of the consultative process as a whole.
Of course, it’s another case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” and politicize everything! We all know that is the case in light of the former Secretary of Defense Gate’s new book, “Duty” where it was exposed in stark clarity that in the Obama Administration, politics trumps policy.
Of course, the right had its opinions on today’s “dog and pony show,” but here is something from a Democrat as well (From UT Documents):
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), a former member of the Intelligence Committee who has introduced legislation that would repeal the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act, released the following statement on the President’s remarks today about reforming the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs:
“The President’s speech offered far less than meets the eye.
“His proposals continue to allow surveillance of Americans without requiring a Fourth Amendment determination of probable cause. They continue to regard Americans as suspects first and citizens second. They continue to allow the government to build backdoors into computer software and hardware. They fail to strengthen protections for whistleblowers who uncover abusive spying.
“The President spoke about navigating ‘the balance between security and liberty.’ But this is a faulty and false choice. As Barack Obama himself urged in his first inaugural address, we must ‘reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.’
“The Fourth Amendment and other civil liberty protections do not exist to impede police or intelligence agencies. To the contrary, they exist to hold to hold government agents to a high standard – to ensure that they act on the basis of evidence, rather than wasting time and resources on wild goose chases.
“Even the modest improvements announced today are subject to reversal at a stroke of the President’s pen. A standard of ‘trust my good intentions’ isn’t good enough. Congress should reject these practices and repeal the laws that made the NSA’s abuses possible.”
Hmmm, national security versus total loss of liberty, privacy and human rights…God help the Republic! He did however worry about what foreign nations would think, especially over industrial spying, read what he is doing regarding Brazil. Meanwhile all your texts belong to the NSA, despite the President telling us it was only meta data. Also, read more on signals intelligence issues here.
It’s up to you to decide, but let’s make sure we see all the angles before we decide. We hope we were able to point out a couple here, and also in the story below. Yes, it is from RT.com, but often, a viewpoint from overseas helps us focus and see through the fog:
President Barack Obama announced as expected on Friday a major overhaul to some of the National Security Agency’s most disputed surveillance operations seven months after they was first exposed, reining in the metadata collection program among others.
Effective immediately, the president said, NSA officials must obtain court permission in order to access the government’s archive of telephone metadata — a trove of intelligence that has been regularly collected by the government through a program that its proponents say is a legally sound and crucial counterterrorism tool justified under Section 215 of the United States Patriot Act.
Evidence of that program was exposed last June through classified documents disclosed to the media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and spurred an immediate and ongoing international discussion that cumulated with the president’s endorsement of reform during a Friday morning speech inside the Justice Department building in downtown Washington, DC.
“I believe we need a new approach,” Mr. Obama said. “I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk metadata collection program as it currently exists, and establishes a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata.”
Exactly who will be in charge of holding onto the phone records pertaining to millions of Americans has yet to be decided, however, and Mr. Obama says he’s tasked United States Attorney General Eric Holder, the intelligence community and Congress with finding a solution.
Among the first of top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden since June is evidence that revealed the US government has regularly compelled the nation’s telecommunication companies for so-called metadata, in turn receiving on routine basis the primitive details about each and every phone call dialed. But while Mr. Obama and his administration has largely defended the program up to and during Friday’s speech, critics have condemned that program and others like it exposed by Mr. Snowden and have accused the government of violating the civil liberties and rights to privacy of not just Americans, but millions around the globe.
The president said during his address that he wouldn’t “dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or his motivations,” citing the ongoing investigation into the leaks, but insisted that when individuals who oppose government policy take it upon themselves to publically disclose classified information as the former contractor did, then the US government “will not be able to keep our people safe or conduct foreign policy.” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an ally of Snowden, told CNN that the leaker will respond to the new NSA reforms next week.
Other documents disclosed by Mr. Snowden since June have revealed NSA programs that target the communications of foreign persons, including average citizens and allied leaders alike. As expected, Obama announced his intent to reform some of those operations during Friday’s address as well.
Revelations that the NSA had tapped the personal phones of foreign leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel caused outrage around the world last year, but on Friday’s speech Mr. Obama said that the US is the “world’s only superpower” and must continue to conduct operations allies are not able to accomplish on their own.
“We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective,” the president said, “but heads of state and governments with whom we work closely . . . should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners.”
The US government “will continue to gather information about the intentions” of foreign governments, the president said. On the contrary, though, he also promised the NSA “will not monitor the communications of heads of state” atop the ranks of allied partners unless there are compelling national security purposes at stake. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will be subjected to new reform as well, he said, allowing the government to intercept the communications of overseas targets with important information without putting as many Americans and foreign persons incidentally targeted under the looking glass.
More of the president’s new plans involve activity at home, however, including reformations meant to address concerns with how the government collects an array of intelligence gathering operations that may at times turn up the details pertaining to US persons.
Some of the issues touched upon by Mr. Obama during Friday’s address are included in a presidential policy directive published earlier that morning:
In announcing changes to metadata program carried out through Sec. 215, Mr. Obama said, “I believe critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives and open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs in the future.” His administration will begin immediately working towards transferring possession of those records away from the NSA, the president added, while at the same time significantly cutting down the number of persons whose information is collected.
“Effective immediately,” he added, “we will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist association.” Until now the US government has given itself the authority to investigate the conduct of people separated by three steps, or “hops,” from a targeted number. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union claimed that a person with 40 contacts in their mobile phone address book could be connected to roughly 2.5 million others using the “three hops” rule.
Last month, a five-person review group handpicked by Pres. Obama after the dawn of the Snowden leaks released their findings with regards to how they believe the federal government should reform the NSA’s programs. Although the president heeded only a fraction of those, according to promises made during Friday’s address, he did also endorse significant changes to other surveillance programs that have struck a chord among civil libertarians.
National Security Letters, or NSLs, for instance, can be sent by federal agents to private businesses in order to compel them to provide specific information about certain customers without that targeted person ever being told they are under investigation. “We can and should be more transparent as to how the government uses this authority,” the president said from the DoJ headquarters, and in an effort to do as much he has directed Attorney General Holder to amend how NSLs are currently used.
Mr. Obama also announced that he’s asked Congress to establish a panel of advocate from outside of government to provide an independent voice before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, which authorizes in secret wiretaps and similar spy operations under what critics call little-to-no oversight.
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